California to the Grand Canyon Road Trip

Explore America’s Southwest hot spots along this awe-inspiring 1,870-mile road trip.

Road Trip Itinerary

From surf to saguaros, this incredible adventure starts in San Diego where you can sink your feet into palm tree-lined beaches, peruse the Gaslamp District’s boutiques and trendy restaurants and explore the San Diego Zoo.

Then leave the Pacific Ocean behind in your rearview mirror as you hit the open road to the gateway to the Southwest—Yuma, Ariz. Hailed the sunniest city in the world by Guinness Book of World Records, Yuma offers farm tours and incredible kayaking and tubing down the Colorado River.

Sunset in Saguaro National Park

Sunset in Saguaro National Park

Continue east to Saguaro National Park in Tucson to stroll among the Southwest’s iconic saguaros, some of which stretch 50 feet into the desert sky. Two hours north, get your city fix by exploring the incredible museums, shops and sporting events in Phoenix and Glendale, Ariz.

Farther north lies the Verde Valley where neat rows of deep green grapevines race up and down dry, rolling hills. Discover Arizona wines at one of the inviting tasting rooms lining the historic streets in Jerome, Cottonwood, Cornville and Clarkdale. In the distance, you’ll see the red rocks of Sedona, some of which are believed to have special energy fields. Hike to one of these vortexes in Sedona en route to the breathtaking Grand Canyon.

As you return to San Diego, take the road to Prescott, a classic western town with a lively, family-friendly downtown and the oldest saloon in Arizona. With so much to see on this road trip, discover our top picks as you read on.

Tip: Every year California goes to Daylight Savings time, but Arizona does not. Remember this one-hour difference as you travel between the two states.

Eric Glomski, winemaker and owner of Page Springs Cellars. Courtesy photo

A Toast to Verde Valley, Arizona’s Wine Country

Winemakers in Verde Valley between Sedona, Cottonwood and Jerome, pour their passion into their work. Read about Glomski’s and Predmore’s path to winemaking. Read More...

Main Street in Bisbee, Arizona. Photo by Bri YYZ via Flickr

Artfully Authentic Copper Towns of Arizona

South of Tucson are three historic towns that make up a fantastic scenic loop. Each offers a unique experience and a glimpse into Arizona’s vibrant history. Read More...

Evening lights at Balboa Park in San Diego, California

Balboa Park in San Diego

Spanning 1,200 acres, the park is patched together by nine gardens, 17 museums, a miniature railroad, a carousel and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Read More...

Catalina State Park bordering Tucson, Ariz.

Basecamp in Tucson, Arizona

Enjoy the resort lifestyle of Tucson then visit nearby Saguaro National Park and the historic communities of Tubac, Bisbee, and Tombstone. Read More...

The Palace Restaurant and Saloon on Whiskey Row in Prescott, Ariz. Photo by Kenneth Hagemeyer via Flickr

Experience the Old West in Prescott, Ariz.

On your way to the Grand Canyon, stop at America’s oldest saloon, The Palace Saloon in Prescott. Wander Whiskey Row, then stay the night at comfy hotels. Read More...

Sahuaro Ranch House in Glendale, Ariz. Photo by John Penic courtesy of City of Glendale

Glendale, Ariz., Sporting Events and an Historic Downtown

Home to one of the nation’s finest sports & entertainment districts, voted as best shopping, plus outdoor recreation in a desert fairy tale. Read More...

Downtown Flagstaff, Ariz. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

In Flagstaff, Ariz. You’ll Discover Route 66, Ropes and Ale

This lively gateway community comes with a historic downtown. Take the self-guided walking tour, dare to climb the ropes or do the Ale Trail. Read More...

Saguaro National Park in Arizona

Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona

Located in the Sonoran desert, Saguaro National Park protects some of the most impressive forests of giant saguaro. Read More...

Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona. Photo by Lear Miller courtesy of Visit Sedona.

Sedona, Ariz., Red Rocks and Energy Vortexes

Sedona is just a 2-hour drive from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Hike or bike 100 red rocks trails, visit a spiritual vortex in the mountains, or browse one of 40 art galleries. Read More...

View of Phoenix from Camelback Mountain

Top 13 Things to Do in Phoenix, Ariz.

Watch Spring Training, tour a botanical garden, climb Camelback Mountain, visit museums, and more. Read More...

Barringer Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona. Courtesy photo

Two Landmarks That Helped Americans Land on the Moon

On your road trip to the Grand Canyon, stop by a Meteor Crater and the Lowell Observatory which have played critical roles in NASA’s space program. Read More...

Exhibit about Recycled Orchestra. Photo courtesy of Musical Instrument Museum

Visit Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

Travel the world through music at MIM. Enjoy over 360 exhibits displaying nearly 6,000 instruments and artifacts from around the world, live concerts, events, global cuisine, and shopping. Read More...

Pete's classic 1940's Ford sedan out front of his namesake Route 66 Gas Station Museum in Williams, Arizona. Photo by Loco Steve via Flickr

Williams, Ariz., Gateway to Grand Canyon on Route 66

A wildlife park, a scenic train ride to the Grand Canyon, a thrilling zipline adventure above Route 66, and a peaceful mountain retreat are waiting for you in Williams. Read More...

Participants in a Field to Feast tour start their morning by harvesting the produce that will be turned into their lunch by culinary students at the local college in Yuma, Arizona.

Yuma, Ariz., The Real Farm to Table

Yuma produces 90 percent of North America’s leafy vegetables during the winter. Pick them yourself, then eat the culinary-student-prepared meal. Read More...